In a galaxy far far away, on the planet of Golak, there exists a girl named Rani — the one with the force — and her protective elder brother Charuk. The duo is chased down by Imperial forces.
This is a Star Wars story, ‘The Bandits of Golak’ but with a twist; the characters and the settings are all inspired by India’s culture.
Part of the new animated anthology series ‘Star Wars: Visions’, The Bandits of Golak was created by Indian animation studio 88 Pictures, led by Milind D Shinde and director Ishan Shukla. The series was released on May 4 on Disney+.
Vision for ‘Visions 2’
According to Shinde, 88 Pictures was selected to work on the series when Lucasfilm, home to the legendary franchise, wanted to expand the horizon with stories told from different territories. Season one of Visions was all made by Japanese anime studios.
When the chance came, Shinde’s first thought was, “We are from India, we have 1.3 billion people, we have stories, culture and a huge Star Wars fan base.”
His team created a pitch that was loved by Lucasfilm. 88 Pictures is no stranger to working in Hollywood as the team has worked on popular projects such as TrollHunters for Netflix.
Since 2016, 88 Pictures “offers end-to-end solutions in visual imagery and content production for feature films, TV series” and more.
All these experiences of grand storytelling helped Shinde, Shukla, and the team to offer a story that had themes of Star Wars but was rooted in Indian culture.
For example, the lead characters in the short film Rani and Charuk have a sibling bond that’s similar to the bond Luke and Leia Skywalker share in the original trilogy.
Force and Jalebis
“Food is also a major theme in the short,” says Shinde. “We imagined how Jalebi would be in the Star Wars world. So we named it as ‘Lebi’ but made it colourful like candies. If you notice the characters in the train chase sequence, you could see aliens that are common in all the franchise films but they are all dressed like us. The climax, too, takes place in a Dhaba!”
Will we see Mandalorians or Millenium Falcon over the skies of Golak? “That’s a question you need to ask Lucasfilm,” chuckles Shinde. “I hope that with this it is going to entice and encourage a lot of filmmakers to think big and do global stories. We are sitting under this huge pile of heritage stories that have existed for centuries and we can now show it to the world.”